Recent failings in the SUSI grant allocation have been brought to our attention by UCDSU, as those most reliant on the financial aid have found themselves cast aside by the system.
The UCDSU President Fergal Hynes has stated that, “students needed to have this information and money at least a month and a half ago and now they are left with very little option except to drop out and incur a full years fees next year and hope that they qualify for SUSI in some form in the future.”
The plight of Gary (whose name has been changed to protect his identity), a 20 year old studying in UCD is one which encapsulates the issue, and will resonate with many who are struggling to stay afloat and have been forced to juggle college work with a job.
The financial quandary which Gary finds himself in is a result of SUSI’s failure to recognise him as independent. Gary had to leave home at the age of 18, yet in a gross oversight by SUSI, he will not be acknowledged as independent until he reaches the age of 23. Gary sees himself as both 'discarded', and 'forgotten', by our Government.
As Gary entered his third year of college, he jumped through yet another of SUSI’s hoops. On the advice of a SUSI official, Gary held a meeting with his parents in the presence of a solicitor to legally declare his independence. In a cruel twist of fate, it was revealed to Gary that the solicitor’s letter meant absolutely nothing.
He was told by SUSI that, “There are hundreds of students like yourself, who desperately need this grant but just slip through the cracks, and there’s nothing we can do about it, it’s just the way it is.”
Gary made his third application for the grant in July and remains skeptical as he has heard nothing back from SUSI with the first semester drawing to a close.
The pressure of working more and more hours to pay mounting bills is telling on Gary as he has fallen behind on his college work, and often lacks the energy to attend college at all. The prospect of dropping out has become an all too likely one for Gary, as he is denied the necessary support from the Government.
The crippling pressure on many students nationwide is felt most acutely at this time of year, with both the financial burden of the Christmas period and the stress of the exam period looming over his head.
UCDSU’s Undergraduate Education Officer has stated her disappointment in the “Government behemoth that is making life worse for students not better.”
Fergal Hynes has called on the Government to, “staff SUSI adequately so that they can process forms as quickly as possible.”
A meeting between SUSI and the UCDSU is due to be held in the coming week to address the growing concern of the UCDSU. The outcome of the meeting will be closely monitored.
Photo: Dan Moyle/ Flickr